Holiday musings: my mom and Wabash College, my grandma and Christmas decor, and my friends and the Legal Marketing community

Part 1 …

Thank you, Wabash College (and Karen Linn Handley!), for this lovely shout out to my mom Susie Sexton in the latest alumni magazine. She and my father Don Sexton loved Wabash and the positive and profound impact attending and, later, working there had upon me.

I still remember vividly the day they dropped me off for freshman year, her standing in front of Sparks Hall (right after a shutter on the stately building crashed off its hinges to the ground) exclaiming with pride, “Go and have fun! Enjoy this!” That exhortation may have been an immediate response to me tearfully asking them to take me back home. As I understand, my mom herself cried during the entire car ride back to Columbia City when they left me that day, but I never got one hint of her own anxiety about setting me on my path. To be honest, I was even a bit shocked that she seemed so ready to get rid of me! 

My mom had an incredible superpower to be the eye of a hurricane in the truly important moments and to exemplify bravery when others were caving around her. That takes an incredible energy, selflessness, and love – it also takes a toll on the person who sets that intrepid tone day after day, year after year. The older I get the more I realize what a high wire act that can be. I will always be grateful for that quality my mother had and how I benefited from it.

I’m glad this particular issue’s theme is “gratitude” as that is what I’m feeling right now.

Please check out Editor Kim Johnson’s excellent foreword – she nails with candor and warmth and wit the anxiety we all are feeling these days and how moments of pause and of appreciation can re-center us.

Part 2 …

My grandma Edna Duncan had an inimitable way of decorating for the holidays. If I were to give her style a descriptor, I’d call it “how to avoid putting up a tree while still seeming festive for the grandkids by utilizing one’s fireplace, some tinsel and garland, and assorted marginally Christmas-related items.” There was a nurse doll (still scratching my head about that one), a handful of glass ornaments, some mid-century flocked reindeer, a half-drained snow globe or two, and THIS little item. (Well, not THIS very one pictured, but you get the idea.)

I’m guessing some liquor vendor gave this novelty promo item to my novelty-promo-item-loving grandpa Roy Duncan (this apple doesn’t fall very far from THAT tree) when he ran #ColumbiaCity’s “Blue Bell” (Wrangler Jeans) factory. I’m not sure how/if it survived years of inquisitive grandkids (myself included) pushing the lid down off sequence, shoving fingers in the automaton pups’ mouths, and plugging and unplugging and plugging it back in. I also don’t know where the original ended up, but I decided late one night the other week to see if I could find a replacement on eBay.

Lo and behold, my insomnia-fueled nite owl online shopping adventures struck gold. And $150 later (Merry Christmas to ME!), this very cute and, yes, incredibly annoying piece has been added to our own eclectic decor. Let the holiday traditions live on!

Now, when and if I start gifting bottles of Old Spice cologne with checks lovingly affixed (not to mention wearing little straw hats), you’ll know my transformation into Edna Duncan is complete!

Yoda does NOT look amused. 🤣

Part 3 …

I am truly lucky to have a wonderful friend with whom I also happen to work. I’ve known Megan McKeon maybe about 10 years now? But we first actually collaborated in 2015 on a Legal Marketing Association – LMA International annual conference quick start panel. Fellow panelists Heather Morse-Geller and Gina Furia Rubel said, “We gotta get Megan to join us!” They were absolutely right. Few people are as devoted, as hard-working, as caring as Megan.

Flash forward a few years later, and Megan introduced me to Clark Hill. Heather told me that I MUST take the job – as she saw it as the right next step for me. Don’t tell Heather I said this, but she’s darn right 99% of the time! 😉

This legal marketing community blesses us with guardian angels at every turn, and three years ago when I received the distinct privilege to work with Megan my life improved for the better. I’ve never worked harder in my life, been challenged to be a better professional, or had someone so consistently in my corner as I have had with Megan, and our wonderful boss Susan Ahern, and our incredible colleagues.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, it’s late. And I’m in a reflective mood. And this magical surprise (pictured above) appeared on our front doorstep. Admittedly, one can argue it’s a year early as I will be president elect of the international association next year and president the following. Nonetheless, when my husband opened this, thinking he was going to find new floor mats for his Jeep 😅, we both squealed with delight. Of course, being me, I couldn’t get this on our movie poster wall fast enough.

(NOTE: I added the word “elect” to the image in the hopes of avoiding controversy! 😅)

This gift puts such a big smile on my face after one hell of a year. Everyone knows I love movies obsessively, but Megan has a distinct giftgiving prowess and somehow she found somebody who could turn me into my own movie poster. The tagline is hysterical: “Only the marketing is legal.” 🤣

Fun fact, Megan took this picture of me – and it is one of my favorites. We were in Chicago, on a sidewalk patio, shortly after I had started with the firm (halfway between a couple of my quarterly nervous breakdowns 😂), waiting for Ray Koenig and Susan to join us for drinks. Little did that naive Roy know what incredible adventures were ahead. But I’m looking at this poster, reflecting on the past year, the past three years, the past 10 years, incredibly grateful for what our legal marketing community has given all of us and for this friendship with dear Megan. Love you, Megan.

I hope everyone rings in 2022 with love in their hearts and an appreciation for what makes us each uniquely perfect in our own beautifully fallible ways. My holiday prayer.

Dear friend Beth Kennedy always slays (sleighs?) with her clever handmade birthday cards. We have glitter EVERYWHERE. And we LOVE it. Fun fact: she’s also statistically the most prolific commenter on this blog – after my mom! I reach tens of people with each post! 🤣
Hudson and I are modeling “The Comfy” – in essence a ginormous velour sweatshirt billed as a “wearable blanket.” It’s an apt description 😍🥰❤️. A Christmas gift from my adorable, gracious, generous, QVC-loving mother-in-law.
Loving this fabulous card from Alexis Menard. So grateful UM-Flint School of Management brought us together – she’s a gem!

“It is new and different. Therefore, we should fear it.” Ralph Breaks the Internet

[Image Source: Wikipedia]

Happy New Year! We finally saw Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet. Don’t make fun of our movie choice because it took a month and a half to get there. Or because it is, well, Ralph Breaks the Internet. The flick is a clever and zippy analysis of the light and dark sides of the internet and a logical extension of the franchise. The Disney princess sequence which has gained the lion’s share of the film’s buzz is indeed loony meta-perfection. The last 20 minutes of the movie feel a bit labored and darkly existential, like the filmmakers just had NO idea how to wrap the thing up, but otherwise the movie is a delight.

About the original film, I wrote six years ago:

“Does Disney’s latest animated foray Wreck-It Ralph live up to the peppy pixelated promise of its retro fun trailer? Not quite. Is it an enjoyable pre-holiday diversion with a lot of heart to accompany its endlessly merchandisable premise? Absolutely. A shameless amalgam of Disney’s own Toy Story, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and Tron, this film deftly imagines a world in which video game characters (from across thirty years of canon beloved by Gens X & Y, Millennials, and beyond) live, laugh, argue, and play after the neighborhood video arcade takes its last round of quarters for the evening. Clever touches and pop cultural references abound, with the Donkey Kong-esque titular character Ralph, warmly voiced by the ever-reliable John C. Reilly, trying to shake off three decades of villainy to gain acceptance from his digital cohorts.”

[Image Source: Wikipedia]

This synopsis basically holds true of the 2018 sequel as well. However, Wreck-It Ralph 2 benefits, like the Toy Story sequels before it, from a built-in audience familiarity with its premise. Going in, we carry few (if any) expectations for a groundbreaking narrative or breathtaking visual experience and are settled in for some cinematic comfort food. On that front, Ralph Breaks the Internet more than delivers.

The vintage arcade that houses Ralph, Sugar Rush racing game’s Vanellope von Schweetz (an impishly acerbic Sarah Silverman), and their sundry digital buddies adds “WiFi” internet access for its young patrons’ convenience. After a mishap involving the steering wheel controller attached to Vanellope’s game console, Ralph and Vanellope use said WiFi to take a wild and woolly trip into the far reaches of the internet to retrieve a replacement.

[Image Source: Wikipedia]

The same aesthetic inventiveness from directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore that benefited the first film is on display here, depicting the interwebs as a glistening Emerald City-style metropolis, populated with perky chirping Twitter birds, YouTube-inspired video cafes, and an ebay shopping complex that borrows liberally from Target and IKEA and the Mall of America. Oh, and just like the real internet, the denizens of Ralph‘s mythic world know that one should never read the comments section.

[Image Source: Wikipedia]

Vanellope and Ralph’s friendship is put to the test when she is lured by the manic, violent pleasures of an online Grand Theft Auto-style game Slaughter Race and its a**-kicking heroine Shank (a wry Gal Gadot). After a satirical meet-up with all the Disney princesses (which is somehow both ultimate Disney-corporate synergy and a bold send-up of Mouse House excess), Vanellope sings her own “I’m Wishing”/”Part of Your World”/”Belle”-style anthem of longing, the zany “A Place Called Slaughter Race”: “What can it be that calls me to this place today?/This lawless car ballet, what can it be?/Am I a baby pigeon sprouting wings to soar?/Was that a metaphor?/Hey, there’s a Dollar Store!” (and so on).

[Image Source: Wikipedia]

Ultimately, the core message of Ralph Breaks the Internet is that true friendship can withstand any challenge or geographical distance. Ho hum. The more important takeaways are that women are people too, free-thinking and bold, and that nothing is gained in life without a sense of risk and adventure. As the arcade characters are cautioned by one of their own when “WiFi” enters their midst: “It is new and different. Therefore, we should fear it.” Pshaw!

_____________________________

Yours truly modeling my new birthday coat (FAUX fur collar). My mother thinks I look like the creature from “The Shape of Water.” LOL.

Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital). In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by BookboundCommon Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan. My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.